Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 4, 1962
NUMBER 22, PAGE 1,12a

Does The Truth Lie Between Two Extremes

Jack H. Kirby

Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32) For many years this writer has heard sermons and lessons using the statement that "the truth lies between two extremes" as a basis for various discussions he has until recent months, used this expression many times also. This has been used to show for example that some religionists teach salvation by faith only while some accuse the church of our Lord of teaching salvation by water, and we would affirm that the truth was between these extremes, viz., one was saved by faith exercising itself in obedience, through baptism. Another argument concerned faith and works: one group contending that a man is saved by faith only, and another that man is saved by works. The truth, we would say, lies between the extremes, viz., that man is saved by faith through works, by "working the works of God." (John 6:28; Jas. 2:18) Still again it is said that there are two extremes in consideration of divine authority: one that a thing must be specifically mentioned or authorized to be scriptural, and the other extreme is that a thing must be specifically condemned for it to be wrong. The argument is made that the truth lies between the two extremes, viz., that some things are authorized that are not specifically mentioned, and some things are condemned that are not specifically mentioned; that the realm of authority lies between the extremes. Does authority really lie between two extremes, or is authority simply truth (and vice-versa), and extreme in no wise? If truth is surrounded by extremes, the extremes are from the mind of man and not God.

The question now is raised, "Does the truth lie between two extremes?" Bro. Reuel Lemmons, Editor of the Firm Foundation, and others of like persuasion, have affirmed this repeatedly in recent years to uphold their "middle of the road" position in regard to current issues before the church. The writer recently heard Bro. Lemmons make this statement that "the truth lies between two extremes" in the opening sentence of his sermon. He was using it in regard to Christians and churches celebrating such secular holidays as Thanksgiving and Christmas. The "middle of the road" position itself is very confusing. How can one believe that a missionary society is wrong only when it controls the churches? Or, how can one believe that a missionary society is wrong, and the Herald of Truth and Gospel Press are right and scriptural? Again, how can one believe that the missionary society is wrong but a sponsoring church is right? Or, how can one believe that the missionary society is wrong and benevolent societies (the organizations provided for in their charters that build, operate and maintain such homes as Boles, Tipton, etc.) are right? Where is the "middle of the road" with regard to truth? Does truth lie between the two extremes that (1) the church cannot grow without so-called "Christian Colleges," and (2) the church from its treasury cannot support them?

"What is truth?" (John 18:38) Webster says it is "agreement with reality; eternal principle of right, or law of order; veracity; fidelity; fact; realization; conformity to rule or example; righteousness." Jesus in his prayer to the Father said, "sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth." (John 17:17) The Psalmist says "all thy commandments are truth." (Psa. 119:151) The wise man of old compared error and truth in these words, "He that uttereth truth showeth forth righteousness; but a false witness deceit." (Prov. 12:17) The truth is truth, the word of God, and is not extreme in any realm of consideration. Is it extreme to teach that baptism is a requirement or salvation and failure to obey will condemn? Is it extreme to teach that one who "forsakes the assembly" (Heb. 10:25) will be lost? Is it extreme to teach that God requires us to remember the death of his Son by eating the Lord's Supper, and a failure to do so is sin? No, none of these things are extremes because they are truths taught very plainly in the New Testament. Why then is it called an extreme position when one teaches that the church is sufficient to do its work without any human organizations to supplant God's divine organization, the church? Or, why are some called extremists hobbyists, and legalists when they teach that elders are to function only in the congregation that selected them (1 Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:28); and are not to function over any brotherhood arrangement such as Herald of Truth which is larger than any local church, and at one time did the work of approximately one thousand churches? Also, why is it considered an extreme position when one teaches that churches, operating as a called out body, in New Testament days supported only "saints, brethren" (Acts 2:44, 45; 4:32-36; 11:29; Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 16:1; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:1), and did not exercise "general benevolence" (assistance to Christian and alien alike); and to do so today is without divine authority, and is sinful? These are not extremes, but are God's truths. Men in their fallible mind may consider them extremes, but God considers them as truth. Where is the "middle of the road," or the extremes that these truths are between? Truth is truth and in no wise extreme.

God has set forth the church "according to his eternal purpose" as the result of his "manifold wisdom." (Eph. 3:10, 11) It is complete "for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:12), which is the sum-total of the work of the church. Is it extreme to say that a missionary society is wrong in its concept? Does the truth lie between the extremes that (1) the church is all sufficient to do all the work God wants it to do, or (2) that God did not tell us how to preach, hence we may utilize a missionary society? Bro. J. D. Thomas (Professor of Bible at Abilene Christian College who received his Doctor's degree from the University of Chicago) tells us in his book We Be Brethren (page 137), that the "one and only thing that is wrong with it" (the missionary society) is that it "violate(s) and contradicts(s) the principle of the autonomy of the local church" and dominates and controls the church. Is this a truth between the above extremes? The answer is NO! This is an erroneous statement that reflects on the wisdom of God to design the church a perfect, complete, and sufficient organization. The church is sufficient to do the work of preaching the gospel to the lost, and it needs no missionary society to assist. This is truth and is not extreme in any way.

When one does the commandments of God, in accordance with his plan, or in violation of none of His principles, that is truth, and there can be no extreme except error. If God's precepts, divine examples, and necessary inferences seem extreme, the trouble is in man's reasoning, and not in God's plan. Man's ways are erroneous; God's way is TRUTH, and it is not extreme. Compromise is usually between two extremes, between truth on the one hand and error on the other. We need to "buy the truth and sell it not" (Prov. 23:23), and to compromise with none of God's teachings.

— 1908 Brooke Lane, Brownwood, Texas